Skip Navigation

Sign In or Register


SharePrint Cardinal


The northern cardinal, once known to most West Virginians as simply ‘‘red bird,’’ became our state bird in 1949. It was chosen for the male’s brilliant red coloration and crest and the lovely, although more subtle colors of the female, its statewide distribution, the beautiful, cheery song heard from early spring into summer, and its propensity to live near our dwellings and visit backyard bird feeders.

Spring courtship rituals often begin with the male offering the female a tidbit of food. The nest is made of twigs, vines, leaves, and small roots, lined with hair and fine grass. It is usually built close to the ground, in shrubs, or small trees. The female lays two to five eggs which are buff-white with dark marks. She sits on the eggs for 12 to 13 days and the young leave 10 to 11 days after hatching. There may be two, three, even four broods a season; the male cares for the existing brood while the female incubates the eggs of the next.

Cardinals eat 51 species of insects, 33 kinds of wild fruits, and 39 different weed seeds. To attract them to a feeder offer black oil sunflower or safflower seed.

This Article was written by Kathleen Carothers Leo

Last Revised on October 19, 2023

Related Articles

Cite This Article

Leo, Kathleen Carothers "Cardinal." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 19 October 2023. Web. 24 July 2024.


There aren't any comments for this article yet.

West Virginia Humanities Council | 1310 Kanawha Blvd E | Charleston, WV 25301 Ph. 304-346-8500 | © 2024 All Rights Reserved

About e-WV | Our Sponsors | Help & Support | Contact Us The essential guide to the Mountain State can be yours today! Click here to order.